Evolution of Gene Therapy

New Hope for Cures and Emerging Ethical Dilemmas

Genetic mistakes can have devastating consequences. Rare, debilitating, and even fatal diseases are often caused by just a single typo in the 3 billion letters that make up our genetic code. Dr. Steven Gray is on a mission to correct these mistakes and deliver permanent cures to patients. His gene therapy strategy holds such promise that the FDA fast-tracked a clinical trial, currently underway, to treat a rare childhood neurodegenerative disease. While gene therapy has the potential to someday cure everything from cancer to Alzheimer’s disease, these tools must be wielded with great caution and stringent ethical standards so that the benefits continue to outweigh the risks. At the conclusion of his presentation, Dr. Gray will be joined by UT Southwestern ethicist Dr. Elizabeth Heitman for an interactive discussion about the past, present, and future of this exciting and hot-button topic.


Dr. Steven Gray is Associate Professor in Pediatrics, Eugene McDermott Center for Human Growth & Development, Hamon Center for Regenerative Science and Medicine, Molecular Biology, and Neurology & Neurotherapeutics. He is an industry-leading gene therapy scientist who joined the UT Southwestern faculty in 2017 to develop gene therapy clinical trials for inherited neurological disorders. Gene therapy is the method of replacing defective genes with healthy genes to correct genetic defects. Dr. Gray oversees the new UTSW viral vector production facility, which will provide scientists with resources to carry out basic, translational, and clinical research through gene therapy. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Auburn University and earned his Ph.D. in molecular biology from Vanderbilt University. Dr. Gray performed a postdoctoral fellowship focused on gene therapy at UNC-Chapel Hill and has published more than 50 peer-reviewed papers. He also has nine pending patents. In 2016 the Triangle Business Journalrecognized Dr. Gray with a Health Care Hero Award. 


Elizabeth Heitman, Ph.D. is Professor, Program in Ethics in Science & Medicine, Department of Psychiatry at UTSW. Her work looks at cultural issues and international aspects of ethics in medicine, biomedical science, and public health. Dr. Heitman’s research examines international standards of research ethics and education in the responsible conduct of research (RCR). In the past, she has taught about research integrity and ethics in global health in several countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as in Mozambique, China, Indonesia and Malaysia, Algeria, Turkey, and Jordan. Dr. Heitman received her Ph.D. in religious studies in 1988 from Rice University’s joint program in biomedical ethics with the University of Texas – Houston Medical School. She was previously on the faculty of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and Vanderbilt. 

Date: March 27, 2019

Time: 6:00-7:30 PM

 - 6:00 to 6:30 Reception (wine and hors d'oeuvres will be served)
 - 6:30 to 7:30 Presentation

Location: UT Southwestern - T. Boone Pickens Biomedical Building

Cost: Patrons - Free, Members - $10, Young Alumni- Free, Guests/Non-Members - $15

*NOTE: Harvard Young Alumni are defined as graduates from any Harvard school from 2010 or later.


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6:00PM - 7:30PM Wed 27 Mar 2019, Central timezone


UT Southwestern - T. Boone Pickens Biomedical Building
6001 Forest Park Rd #200
Dallas, TX 75235

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